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When are you actually an adult? - Shannon Odell

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Most countries recognize 18 as the start of adulthood by granting various freedoms and privileges. Yet there’s no exact age or moment in development that we can point to as having reached full maturity. If there’s no consensus on exactly when we reach maturity, when do we actually become adults? Shannon Odell shares how scientists define adulthood using stages of brain development.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Shannon Odell
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer, Gen Parton-Shin, May Yoshioka
  • Storyboard Artist Wing Luo
  • Animation Supervisor Amarello Rodrigues, Henrique Barone
  • Lead Animator Murilo Jardim
  • Animator Javier Ibañez , Paulina Juárez Mandujano
  • Art Director Nuri Keli, Henrique Barone
  • Illustrator Salvador Padilla
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Composer Weston Fonger, Samuel Bellingham
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Alexandra Zubak
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Shannon Odell
  • Expert Consultant Katie Insel , Bonnie Nagel
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Under most laws, young people are recognized as adults at age 18. But emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don't reach full maturity until 25. To find out more, check out this NPR interview with Sandra Aamodt, neuroscientist, and co-author of the book Welcome to Your Child's Brain.

Emerging science signals that many of our conceptions of adulthood and maturity are wrong or ill-informed. For a broader overview of teen brain development, check out this lesson or this explainer video of the adolescent brain.

Finally, Frank Green explains why teens sometimes behave like a different species and how younger brains differ from their adult counterparts.


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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Shannon Odell
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer, Gen Parton-Shin, May Yoshioka
  • Storyboard Artist Wing Luo
  • Animation Supervisor Amarello Rodrigues, Henrique Barone
  • Lead Animator Murilo Jardim
  • Animator Javier Ibañez , Paulina Juárez Mandujano
  • Art Director Nuri Keli, Henrique Barone
  • Illustrator Salvador Padilla
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Composer Weston Fonger, Samuel Bellingham
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Producer Alexandra Zubak
  • Associate Producer Abdallah Ewis
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Shannon Odell
  • Expert Consultant Katie Insel , Bonnie Nagel

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